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Pollyanna Wins: How to Get Lucky


 Pamela (aka Sky­d­weller) is an ana­lyst (dubbed by her hus­band as a Quan­ti­ta­tively Tran­scen­dent Pul­chri­tudi­nous Infor­mat­ics Execu­tor) and writer. Her inter­ests and hob­bies include busi­ness, research, analy­sis, real estate con­sult­ing, mar­ket­ing, psy­chol­ogy, process improve­ment, read­ing, writ­ing, and sculpt­ing. Read more from this author


I had always con­sid­ered myself a lucky per­son who expe­ri­enced more good for­tune than bad. That’s not quite right, how­ever. What I really expe­ri­enced was for­tune that I more fre­quently per­ceived as good rather than bad. Another per­son may have thought events were unfor­tu­nate that I con­sid­ered to be lucky.

No, that’s not right either. Another per­son may not shifted per­cep­tion to see the pos­i­tive aspects of the events nor rec­og­nized an ele­ment of con­trol over out­come through lever­ag­ing the events for the best outcome.

It was so lucky, for exam­ple, that I got pneu­mo­nia in 1992 and so ill I had leave Nashville to return “home” to Florida. That’s the way I phrase it, but tech­ni­cally, it was an event — pneu­mo­nia — that led to an event — return­ing home — that placed me in a posi­tion where I was in close geo­graphic prox­im­ity to my then future hus­band, increas­ing the oppor­tu­nity between the events of his life and mine. There was a causal rela­tion­ship between the pneu­mo­nia and a future pos­i­tive, or “lucky” out­come. Do I really think it was “lucky” to have pneu­mo­nia? Well, the event itself was ter­ri­ble, not some­thing I’d care to go through. So I did not like the event or con­sider it lucky or for­tu­nate at the time. The out­come, how­ever, is what I am say­ing deter­mines the “luck” fac­tor, and it is this hind­sight com­bined with one’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the out­come in rela­tion to other pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive events that allow one to real­ize that the occurrence’s impact had a “good luck” value.

A great exam­ple of this is in the per­son who misses their flight. Tragedy! Such a pain in the neck. What will I do, I must get to that meet­ing in Detroit! What a cat­a­stro­phe. Why does this always hap­pen to me? Why does the free­way have to be so crowded, mak­ing me late, etc., etc.… Now you’re devel­op­ing a headache, and peo­ple keep bump­ing into you, caus­ing you to drop all your lug­gage, then your bag gets stolen while you’re dis­tracted pick­ing up a bag’s spilled contents.…

until CNN comes on with the report of the flight’s — your missed flight’s — crash and casu­al­ties. Sud­denly, your per­cep­tion — even your aware­ness of Detroit — becomes sig­nif­i­cantly reduced and your per­cep­tion of your good for­tune greatly enhanced. Thank good­ness I wasn’t on that flight!

Did you still miss the flight?
Yes, the event/occurrence did not change.

Was miss­ing the flight good luck or bad luck?
The event has no value with­out your input. Whether the event and/or its out­come was good or bad depends entirely upon your per­spec­tive, and this is where Pollyanna wins.

The Pollyan­nas (ref­er­enc­ing the always positive-minded Dis­ney char­ac­ter) are those who lever­age the best pos­si­ble out­come from any event, but they accom­plish this with or with­out the influ­ence of another event. Pollyanna might feel annoyed, incon­ve­nienced, angry, etc. but would see the poten­tial advan­tages in miss­ing the flight and tell her­self that per­haps she avoided a dis­as­ter, or now she could get that cof­fee while she fig­ures out to do, and she is relieved that the rush­ing has finally stopped. Pollyanna is not get­ting a headache, and she’s not rush­ing around the air­port caus­ing peo­ple to run into her then spilling her bags and hav­ing her purse stolen.

Because Pollyanna shifted her per­spec­tive of an event most would con­sider bad luck, she felt bet­ter, thought more clearly and thereby man­aged her busi­ness deci­sions imme­di­ately and effi­ciently, avoided a headache, missed the annoy­ance of a spilled bag, and didn’t have her purse stolen. Instead she called Detroit to advise of her sit­u­a­tion change and learned that the meet­ing had been moved as a result of another unfore­seen event, ren­der­ing her trip less nec­es­sary; she could han­dle mat­ters from home. When she pulled into her dri­ve­way, the neigh­bor was in the next yard and shared news about a big sale at the mall. Pollyanna ran to the mall and picked up a new suit, and a co-worker remarked on how sharp she looked. This open­ing led to a con­ver­sa­tion then col­lab­o­ra­tion between the two for a more effi­cient process. The process was a suc­cess in the eyes of man­age­ment, and Pollyanna was pro­moted. Sheer luck? Not a chance.

It goes back to the “Our Win­dows = Our World” con­cept. We see what we choose to see, and that syn­er­gizes into more “good” or more “bad” events. The more we rec­og­nize good events and the good in events, the more good events come our way. The same is true with bad events or bad luck. We are like mag­nets who draw good because we look for it, are there­fore able to see it, rec­og­nize it, then adopt and employ it, then let it snow­ball. We can develop our per­cep­tion to where we “see” very lit­tle bad luck in our lives and there­fore report being “lucky”. The same is true for bad luck in the other direc­tion, with a proven (Wise­man, 2007) dimin­ish­ment in the abil­ity to “see” good luck.

Allow me to leave you with the fol­low­ing words from Richard Wise­man as quoted in Fast Company’s “How to Make Your Own Luck” by Daniel Pink http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/72/realitycheck.html?page=0%2C0 (2007):

Accord­ing to Richard Wise­man, these four prin­ci­ples can cre­ate good for­tune in your life and career.

1. Max­i­mize Chance Opportunities

Lucky peo­ple are skilled at cre­at­ing, notic­ing, and act­ing upon chance oppor­tu­ni­ties. They do this in var­i­ous ways, which include build­ing and main­tain­ing a strong net­work, adopt­ing a relaxed atti­tude to life, and being open to new experiences.

2. Lis­ten to Your Lucky Hunches

Lucky peo­ple make effec­tive deci­sions by lis­ten­ing to their intu­ition and gut feel­ings. They also take steps to actively boost their intu­itive abil­i­ties — for exam­ple, by med­i­tat­ing and clear­ing their mind of other thoughts.

3. Expect Good Fortune

Lucky peo­ple are cer­tain that the future will be bright. Over time, that expec­ta­tion becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it helps lucky peo­ple per­sist in the face of fail­ure and pos­i­tively shapes their inter­ac­tions with other people.

4. Turn Bad Luck Into Good

Lucky peo­ple employ var­i­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal tech­niques to cope with, and even thrive upon, the ill for­tune that comes their way. For exam­ple, they spon­ta­neously imag­ine how things could have been worse, they don’t dwell on the ill for­tune, and they take con­trol of the situation.

Related arti­cles

http://self-awareness.suite101.com/article.cfm/serendipity_and_luck
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control

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Posted by on December 13, 2009.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Joy, Life, Philosophy

3 Responses

  1. […] This post was men­tioned on Twit­ter by P Tay­lor, P Tay­lor. P Tay­lor said: <span id=‘fee_279’ class=‘front-ed-the_title front-ed’>Pollyanna Wins: How to Get Lucky</span> http://bit.ly/4vaVDt […]

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    by Tweets that mention Pollyanna Wins: How to Get Lucky | Skydweller's Musings -- Topsy.com on Dec 13, 2009 at 14:49 EST

  2. ray ban wayfarer…

    I like your sub­mit. It is good to see you ver­bal­ize from the heart and clar­ity on this crit­i­cal mat­ter can be sim­ply observed.…

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    by ray ban wayfarer on Jul 27, 2013 at 10:47 EST

  3. Thank you :)

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    by SkydwellerNo Gravatar on Aug 14, 2013 at 16:54 EST

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